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Entries in Parenting Apart (5)


Comment by FNF Scotland on press coverage of Cafcass in England and Wales overhauling its approach to 'parental alienation'

There has been coverage in several newspapers today (including the The Guardian and Sun) that Cafcass (Children and Family Court and Advisory Service) in England and Wales is overhauling its approach to parental alienation - when children are put under pressure by one parent after separation to reject the other parent with whom they had a close and loving relationship. Cafcass is now acknowledging that parental alienation is a factor in a significant proportion of its cases. Cafcass is revising its training for its case workers in how to recognise and deal with parental alienation and what to recommend to the judge in the reports it makes to court. In extreme cases Cafcass officers may recommend that children may be removed from the care of an alienating parent.


FNF Scotland National Manager, Ian Maxwell, says, "FNF Scotland hears examples of parental alienation and the holding and withholding of child contact as a method of controlling the non-resident parent at all its monthly group meetings across Scotland. Nevertheless there is still widespread denial here that parental alienation exists among many involved in the family court process, including lawyers, social workers and some sheriffs.

The headlines in this morning's coverage lead on the nuclear option of taking children away from an alienating parent. We are explicit in our approach that 'Both Parents Matter' as set out in all our literature. We welcome Cafcass's public acknowledgement that parental alienation is seriously damaging for the children involved, blighting not only their wellbeing in childhood but also affecting their self esteem and ability to form relationships into adulthood. However, we would rather the penny drops for separated parents that they should put the interests of their children ahead of demolishing their relationship with the alienated parent so the extreme option doesn't have to be triggered.

We don't have Cafcass in Scotland. The role it has in making independent reports about the best interests of the child is performed by Child Welfare Reporters in Scotland. We have raised as a matter of concern that when the role of Child Welfare Reporters was redefined in October 2015 it was explicit that they should be required to have training in parental alienation. This training has never taken place - caught in a disagreement between the Lord President and Scottish Government. It is not acceptable that nothing should continue to happen on this important matter."


Parenting Apart continues

Parenting Apart information/education sessions are for parents who are going through the process of separation or divorce, or are in dispute over contact arrangements.  They help parents to understand about the process of separation and divorce, what their children need from them when they are living apart and how to work together and put their children’s needs first.  They are a one off session of three hours run on a group or one to one basis.  Ex-partners attend different sessions.  Parenting Apart is currently free due to funding from the Scottish Government. 
Evidence from an independent review of Parenting Apart, conducted by SMCI Associates, shows that parents negotiate more effectively after participating in Parenting Apart.  They make more effective use of the support that family lawyers and other professionals can provide.  Of those parents who were seeking a court order before the session, 54% were no longer seeking a court order at the follow up review stage 3 months later.  The percentage of parents satisfied with the current arrangements for their children had risen from 15% before attending Parenting Apart to 41% three months after participating.

Over 700 parents have participated in Parenting Apart since the sessions were made available across Scotland 2 years ago.  The sessions are delivered by specifically trained Parenting Apart facilitators who come from mediation, counselling and family support worker backgrounds.  They offer a wealth of experience, skills and perspectives to parents who participate.  By offering these sessions within Relationships Scotland Member Services parents are able to find out about and access other services and further support.  One of the findings from the sessions is that parents who attend move on from using child contact centres more quickly.

The feedback from parents is overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.  For example:   

‘It was good learning how kids deal with situations instead of just presuming they don't have emotions.’

‘I have come away with a better understanding of how to deal with situations between my ex and I and also situations I may find myself in with children.’

One parent said this at the follow up review stage 3 to 6 months after participating:  

‘It was very helpful to come to the session and hear about other people's experiences. The materials helped, both the pack for parents and the one for children, which my son read and really took on board, to the degree that he would not allow any negative mentions of the other parent.’

Parenting Apart is offered from most Relationships Scotland Family Mediation Services.


Parenting Apart Workshops

Relationships Scotland and Family Mediation Central Scotland are hosting Parenting Apart Workshops in Stirling. The next workshop will be held on Monday 18th June, 6pm - 9pm at 12 Melville Terrace, Stirling FK8 2NE.

The workshops are based on the experience of participants but topics likely to be included are:


  • Talking to your children about separation
  • The effects of this life changing event
  • Information and practical ideas for building a positive future for you and your children
  • Strategies for dealing with difficult situations

Spaces must be booked in advance. You can contact Family Mediation Central Scotland on 01786 472984 or fm.central@btconnect.com

There are also Parenting Apart Groups hosted in Hamilton and Glasgow.

The Hamilton group is run by Relationships Scotland Family Mediation South Lanarkshire. They can be contacted on  01698 421 333 or parentingapart@familysupport.org.uk

The Glasgow groups are run by Relationships Scotland Family Mediation West. They can be contacted on 0141 332 2731.


BBC Radio 4 Women's Hour Lone Parent Week

This week BBC Radio 4 is running a series of episodes on Lone Parenting during Women's Hour.

Monday's segment on lone parenting discussed the stigma of being a lone parent.

Tuesday's segment discussed the economics of single parenting.

Today Tamsin Greig had an episode on Single Parents: Negotiating Childcare. The programme discussed "how best to negotiate with the absent parent on issues of childcare – such as spending time with the children and holidays; setting rules on boundaries and discipline – from food to bedtimes and video games; how to make big decisions such as choosing schools; and how to provide a united front so the child doesn’t play you off against one another."

Women's Hour is on BBC Radio 4 FM weekdays 10:00am - 11:00am. Lone Parent Week will continue until Friday 11th May.

BBC Radio 4 programmes can be downloaded as podcasts. Podcasts are available to download for 7 days after the programme is broadcast. Alternatively you can listen again on BBC iPlayer.


Parenting Apart

Families Need Fathers Scotland is working with Relationships Scotland and local family mediation services in Glasgow and Hamilton to encourage more fathers to attend Parenting Apart sessions. 

These are 3-hour information sessions held in morning or evening for groups of mothers and fathers, with lots of useful information about how to cope with separation and build a positive future for your children. 

Each session includes information on how to talk to your children about separation, the effects on children at various ages and stages and how to deal with less than ideal situations.  A charge is made for some sessions, but subsidised places are available.

Forthcoming dates are as follows:

Hamilton groups hosted by Family Mediation South Lanarkshire - call 01698 421 333 or email parentingapart@familysupport.org.uk to book a space:

Monday, 11 July at 18:00
Friday, 15 July at 10:00
Monday, 12 September at 18:00
Friday, 16 September at 10:00
Monday, 21 November at 18:00
Friday, 25 November at 10:00

Glasgow groups hosted by Family Mediation West - call 0141 332 2731 to book a space:

Monday, 13 June at 18:00
Tuesday, 14 June at 11:00
Tuesday, 23 August at 18:00
Wednesday, 24 August at 11:00
Tuesday, 25 October at 11:00
Thursday, 27 October at 18:00